12 June 2008

Mysterious mountain dino may be a new species

A partial dinosaur skeleton unearthed in 1971 from a remote British Columbia site is the first ever found in Canadian mountains and may represent a new species, according to a recent examination by a University of Alberta researcher.

Discovered by a geologist in the Sustut Basin of north-central British Columbia 37 years ago, the bones, which are about 70 million years old, were tucked away until being donated to Dalhousie University in 2004 and assigned to then-undergraduate student Victoria Arbour to research as an honours project. She soon realized that the bones were a rare find: they are very well-preserved and are the most complete dinosaur specimen found in B.C. to date. They are also the first bones found in B.C.'s Skeena mountain range.

"There are similarities with two other kinds of dinosaurs, although there's also an arm bone we've never seen before. The Sustut dinosaur may be a new species, but we won't know for sure until more fossils can be found," said Arbour, who finished researching the bones while studying for her master's degree at the University of Alberta. "It's very distinct from other dinosaurs that were found at the same time in southern Alberta."

The seven shin, arm, toe and possible skull bones were found nestled in a dip between mountains in the Skeena range, and while the fragments resemble those from a small two-legged, plant-eating dinosaur, the rest of the creature's identity is a mystery, Arbour says.

The fossils are currently in the collection of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and Arbour hopes to lead a U of A team to the site for future investigation.

Arbour's findings were published recently in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

Source: University of Alberta

28 May 2008

Aussie scientists discover oldest proof of live birth

Australian scientists have discovered the oldest evidence of live birth on the planet, thanks to a fossil fish from Western Australia with a well-preserved embryo inside the body cavity.

gogo bird

The fish comes from Gogo, a world-famous fossil deposit in the Kimberley about 375 million years old, making it the oldest example of live birth known amongst the vertebrates (animals with backbones).

Researchers from Museum Victoria, the University of Western Australia and The Australian National University have collaborated in documenting this remarkable fossil – a new genus and species named Materpiscis attenboroughi after Sir David Attenborough – in Nature today.

The Materpiscis (‘mother-fish’ in Latin) was collected during a research trip to Western Australia in 2005 under an Australian Research Council Discovery Project based at ANU. Dr John Long, Head of Science at Museum Victoria (and Adjunct Professor, ANU), discovered the partly developed small skeleton inside the mother’s body cavity when he extracted the specimen from limestone using acetic acid.

The specimen was X-rayed by Dr Tim Senden from the Department of Applied Mathematics at ANU using a special 3D CT scanner built and housed at the University. The fossil has revealed details of the umbilical cord and recrystallised yolk sac, soft tissue structures very rarely preserved as fossils.

“We never know, even in well-studied specimens, what additional information may be revealed by new techniques like XCT scanning - the embryo is a terrific start, but what other secrets these uniquely preserved specimens hold is even more exciting,” Dr Senden said.

Materpiscis belongs to the extinct armoured fish group called the Placodermi. Dr Kate Trinajstic from the University of Western Australia re-examined specimens in the museum collection in Perth and found three small embryos inside an adult female of a closely related form, Austroptyctodus. Previous descriptions of male Austroptyctodus by Dr Gavin Young (Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU) had already indicated an advanced reproductive biology involving copulation and internal fertilisation, as in modern sharks.

The preserved Materpiscis embryos now demonstrate that these placoderms did not lay eggs, but produced live young, a remarkably advanced reproductive strategy to have evolved in such an ancient fish.

“We hold a very significant Gogo fossil collection at ANU - perfect skeletons of ancient skulls and braincases. Recent research has revealed the oldest preserved vertebrate muscle tissue and nerve fibres, and now we have the oldest evidence of the umbilical cord and yolk sac” Dr Young said.

Source: Australian National University

15 May 2008

Green tea compounds beat OSA-related brain deficits

Chemicals found in green tea may be able to stave off the cognitive deficits that occur with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a new study published in the second issue for May of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Green Tea

Researchers examined the effects green tea polyphenols (GTP), administered through drinking water, on rats who were intermittently deprived of oxygen during 12-hour “night” cycles, mimicking the intermittent hypoxia (IH) that humans with OSA experience.

People with OSA have been reported to have increased markers of oxidative stress and exhibit architectural changes in their brain tissue in areas involved in learning and memory. Chronic IH in rats produce similar neurological deficit patterns.

“OSA has been increasingly recognized as a serious and frequent health condition with potential long-term morbidities that include learning and psychological disabilities […],” wrote David Gozal, M.D., professor and director of Kosair Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the University of Louisville, lead author of the article. “A growing body of evidence suggests that the adverse neurobehavioral consequences imposed by IH stem, at least in part, from oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling cascades.”

GTPs are known to possess anti-oxidant properties, acting as a free radical scavengers, and research has shown that the compounds may reduce the risk of a variety of different diseases.

"Recent studies have demonstrated the neuroprotective activity of GTP in animal models of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease,” wrote Dr. Gozal.

In this study, the researchers divided 106 male rats into two groups that underwent intermittent oxygen depletion during the 12-hour “night” cycle for 14 days. One group received drinking water treated with GTP; the other received plain drinking water.

They were then tested for markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as for performance in spatial learning and memory tasks—namely a water “maze” in which the rat had to memorize the location of a hidden platform.

The IH-rats that received the green tea-treated water performed significantly better in a water maze than the rats that drank plain water. “GTP-treated rats exposed to IH displayed significantly greater spatial bias for the previous hidden platform position, indicating that GTPs are capable of attenuating IH-induced spatial learning deficits,” wrote Dr. Gozal, adding that GTPs “may represent a potential interventional strategy for patients” with sleep-disordered breathing.

Source: American Thoracic Society

17 April 2008

Reprogrammed cells reduce Parkinson's symptoms in rats

Neurons derived from reprogrammed adult skin cells successfully integrated into fetal mouse brains and reduced symptoms in a Parkinson’s disease rat model, according to a study published on April 7 in the online Early Edition of PNAS.

parkinson cells

“This is the first demonstration that reprogrammed cells can integrate into the neural system or positively affect neurodegenerative disease,” says Marius Wernig, lead author of the article and a postdoctoral researcher in Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch’s lab.

Researchers in the Jaenisch lab showed in December 2007 that mice with a human sickle-cell anemia disease trait could also be treated successfully with adult skin cells that had been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state.

For the neural experiments Wernig used induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS cells), which were created by reprogramming adult skin cells using retroviruses to express four genes (Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4) into the cells’ DNA. The IPS cells were then differentiated into neural precursor cells and dopamine neurons using techniques originally developed in embryonic stem cells.

In one experiment, Wernig transplanted the neural precursor cells into brain cavities of mouse embryos. The mice were naturally delivered and analyzed nine weeks after the transplantation. Wernig saw that transplanted cells formed clusters where they had been injected and then migrated extensively into the surrounding brain tissues. Using electrophysiological studies conducted by Martha Constantine-Paton from MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and structural analysis, Wernig also saw that the neural precursor cells that migrated had differentiated into several subtypes of neural cells, including neurons and glia, and had functionally integrated into the brain.

To assess the therapeutic potential of the IPS cells, the Jaenisch lab collaborated with Ole Isacson's group at Mclean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and used a rat model for Parkinson's disease, a human condition caused by insufficient levels of the hormone dopamine in a specific part of the midbrain. To mimic this state, the dopamine-producing neurons were killed on one side of the rat brains and the researchers then grafted differentiated dopamine neurons into a part of the rat brains called the striatum.

Four weeks after surgery, the rats were tested for dopamine-related behavior. In response to amphetamine injections, rats typically walk in circles toward the side with less dopamine activity in the brain. Eight of nine rats that received the dopamine neuron transplants showed markedly less or even no circling. Eight weeks after transplantation, the researchers could see that the dopamine neurons had extended into the surrounding brain.

“This experiment shows that in vitro reprogrammed cells can in principle be used to treat Parkinson’s disease,” says Jaenisch. “It’s a proof of principle experiment that argues, yes, these cells may have the therapeutic promise that people ascribe to them.”

Jaenisch and Wernig are optimistic that this work eventually could be applied to human patients, but caution that major hurdles must be addressed first. Those include finding alternatives to the potentially cancer-causing retroviruses used to transform the skin cells into IPS cells and figuring out the best methods and places to transplant the neural precursor cells in humans.

Source: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

25 January 2008

UFO Turkey / Istanbul / Kumburgaz

Clearly visible UFO recorded from Turkey Istanbul - Kumburgaz
Video recorded by Yalcin Yalman

04 January 2008

UFO Photograph Hailed as One of the Best

This photo of a UFO over Cornwall is hailed by experts as one of the best ever taken in Britain.

UFO sightings at Cornwall 55-year-old Kelvin Barbery snapped the mystery object on Dec 29 (2007) from a coastal path between Swanpool and Maenporth, near Falmouth.

In a weird twist, Kelvin did not even see the UFO at the time. He thought he was just taking a sea view… but when he loaded the digital camera card on to his computer, the round metallic ‘craft’ was in the centre of the shot, about two miles away.

This news surprisingly didn’t make it big on international papers. Perhaps people are getting bored over pictures, reports, news and videos about UFO sightings, which are often found as fraud in the end.

01 January 2008


On 1 January 1983 the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (Arpanet) of the US Department of Defence - the forerunner of the internet - was switched to the TCP/IP protocol.

This enabled millions of computers to go online instead of the Network Control Protocol (NCP) which limited it to just 1,000 machines.

The TCP/IP protocol was designed by Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn.

On the mailing list of the Internet Engineering Task Force, internet pioneer Bob Braden wrote: "The most logical date of origin of the internet is 1 January 1983, when the Arpanet officially switched from the NCP protocol to TCP/IP.

"Six months later, the Arpanet was split into the two subnets - Arpanet and Milnet [Military Network] - which were connected by internet gateways.

"There may still be a few remaining T-shirts about that read: 'I Survived the TCP/IP Transition'."

Braden added that some people would be surprised to discover that there were actually a few souls wanting to work on the TCP/IP changeover on 1 January. But they did